MarriageHeat versus Married Porn

Lately, I’ve been trying to change my masturbation habits to become more consistent with God’s vision for sexual behavior. MarriageHeat has been a big part of that, but as a guy, I find it’s easier to get turned on visually. I’m trying to learn the scriptural distinction (if any) between the stories found here and porn that features married couples with mutual consent, as well as animated Japanese hentai that also features married couples. My goal here is not to find an excuse to watch porn while feigning obedience to the Word but to honestly discern what is and is not acceptable. When I talk about porn and hentai from here on, assume that I am referring strictly to material featuring married couples.

I can come up with only two potential reasons that the erotic stories written on MarriageHeat and similar places online might be morally distinct from biblically consistent porn and hentai. First is that they both visually depict women who are not my wife, and Jesus warns us about this in Matt. 5:28. But if I’m being honest, I don’t always replace the women in MarriageHeat stories with my wife. (It’s especially hard to do when the woman is given a name.) And if this is taboo, what does that say about readers who are unmarried when they visit this site? Unless they’re engaged or close to it, they of course can only imagine what their future wife might look like. Both MarriageHeat and married porn performers offer a detailed view into a person’s or couple’s sexual life; the two appear very similar to me.

The second distinction I can come up with is that both porn and hentai depict a fictionalized fantasy, quite romanticized, versus what sex is like in the real world. Perhaps this fictionalization is itself objectionable to God’s vision? But there are many stories here that overtly depict a fantasy scenario too, and I’m sure that many more are fictional or embellished somewhat. (I say this not to denigrate anyone’s writing here; you’re all fantastic). Are we to consider enjoying these stories—including those on MarriageHeat—acceptable so long as they do not lead to action? And by the same token, what about hentai that portrays sex outside of a married context? Should this be avoided in particular, and if so, what makes it less acceptable than non-married fantasies here?

I would appreciate any advice you can provide, and especially references to what scripture has to say about this.

Thanks!

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14 replies
  1. Waiting Hardly says:

    While I can’t provide all the answers, here are some things to think about. Regarding erotic stories, the perfect God-breathed Word includes a book of straight up erotica. This book includes much sexual imagery, both during engagement and marriage.
    It’s also a false equivalence to say arousal is lust. Lusting for another woman means desiring to have someone or something who isn’t yours. Use the sin of gluttony as an example of lust. If my mouth waters when I see or smell bacon, I haven’t committed gluttony in my heart. I can even imagine having my own bacon. But when I start planning to steal your bacon, or decide to eat the entire package, I have committed gluttony in my heart. Seeing or reading isn’t lusting, so you are not sinning by doing so.

  2. SecondMarge says:

    Is the distinction real? It has to be to give MH a reason to exist. Mostly it’s about giving people who want to be anti porn to have a place to get on by writing or reading erotica. What is the difference between erotica and porn? That depends on your taste in erotic materials. Clearly many stories here are identical to those found at “porn” sites and vice versa. Maybe MH is a glass of wine with dinner and porn is a shot and a beer in a bar. In my view the only time erotic material is bad is when like alcohol, it is poorly handled. Erotica can enrich a marriage or give a single person the stimulation they need. And I expect that is the case for 99.9% of the millions of users. I find most stories more interesting than a turn on. Many ring out clearly as male fantasies especially if they are centered around a BJ. My husband enjoyed porn both visual and written but more occasionally then regularly. He shared ones he thought I would enjoy whether a sexy nude or story. Some surprised me by turning me on despite the topic, finding out almost any genre written well could excite me. Pictures or video of men, women, couples, threesomes or groups all could peak my interest. But they were rare and far between as, like TV shows or movies or songs, the majority are poor in quality or not my taste.

    Nothing inherently wrong in erotica even if you call it porn. Just like there is nothing wrong with milk or peanut butter just because some people are allergic to them. You like them or don’t include them in your life. But you don’t stone people who eat a PB &J sandwich.

  3. Aprilandavette says:

    Unfortunately this is neither a short nor easy answer. Essentially there is no biblical prohibition against viewing adult content on its own.
    However, this issue doesn't exist in a vacuum and there are issues to be concerned with like how your spouse feels about it, is it becoming a vice, does it negatively affect your love for Christ, can you watch with a clear conscience?
    Inherently, it's not wrong to do, just something to be careful with.

  4. CrazyHappyLoved says:

    I think it's great that you are digging into scripture and trying to align your actions with what you read in the Word and hear from the Holy Spirit! Isn't that the goal of every Christ-follower?

    Is MH morally distinct from porn? I think so, at least what I've seen of it. Most of what I've been exposed to represented illicit sex, not faithful marriage sex, whether romanticized or not. But as you seem to be able to limit yourself to audiovisual erotica that only depicts sex between a married man and woman (even if the couple is playing out a fantasy), perhaps your experience is different than mine. In that case, I think you may be right that the issue lies less in what you see than in how it affects you.

    Do the videos and cartoons lead you to dissatisfaction with your spouse or create unrealistic expectations of her? Or do they leave you so gratified that you have no interest in improving your marital relationship or igniting a fire within your wife? Do they spark in you a desire to have someone that cannot rightfully be yours? (I don't mean just wondering or imagining what the woman's spouse might experience with her, but desiring to take her for yourself. I see that not as lust but as immersion in the story. You don't want to *become* or *replace* her husband; you're vicariously enjoying what is happening between them as if you were experiencing it yourself, that's all.)

    If none of that is true and watching versus reading about another (authentic or animated) married couple's sex life inspires you only to seek pleasure in and for your spouse (or by yourself, if you can't be together), I can't see the difference. But if the (live) couple is only pretending to be married for the camera, that would be an issue for me.

    Of course, the recency of AV technology means there is no direct Biblical reference for or against it, unlike MH, which has Song of Solomen as its example. But neither does there seem to be an indication that seeing others have licit sex was sinful in any way. We have no examples of it happening, whether with ill effect or good.

    Still, if I don't have peace about something I'm doing, I usually find it best to put it aside while I read and pray about it. If I act against my conscience, it will cause me emotional suffering whether the thing itself was wrong or not.

    • Yoshiya says:

      My wife satisfies me more than anything I’ve watched or read, and if she were comfortable being filmed I’m sure it’s all I’d ever need. But she approves of me enjoying porn and hentai and even watches it with me sometimes after we have sex, so the only guilt I feel comes from an uncertainty of how it looks to God’s eyes.

  5. aloneinmarriage says:

    You specifically asked for scripture. Browsing through the comments I did not see anyone offer scripture, but rather advice based on their opinion and feelings. I am not convinced being nude or seeing others nude is sinful, I have been exploring that in scripture. I also wrestle with whether or not lust and arousal are the same thing. Mainstream Christianity seems to believe that they are, but I do not. I believe lust is a strong desire with covetousness. We are even commanded to desire some things (1 Corinthians 12:31; 14;1) so desire alone cannot be a sin. But there are some desires God wants us to keep in check (Galatians 5:16-18l7, 24) and we have avoid being deceived by sin (Hebrews 2:13).

    Ezekiel 16:7,8 speaks of God covering the nakedness of his beloved when she had grown tall and her breasts were full and when it was time for them to become married. Why? Is that an indication that only the husband should see the wife naked? I'm not sure.

    Of course Genesis describes Adam and Eve as naked and unashamed when the world was perfect, but they covered their nakedness when they disobeyed God. Does that mean when we are in right relationship with him we won't feel ashamed being naked? I'm not sure because after that incident God made them clothes that covered them.

    I believe the existence of the Song of Solomon is a good case for reading erotica that promotes godly marriage and uninhibited sexual relationship between husband and wife. And perhaps SoS would have been made into a movie if AV technology was available in the time Song of Solomon was written. But it wasn't, and there's no indication in scripture that people enjoyed watching married people have sex.

    I also can't imagine that Jesus bounced his eyes every time he saw a beautiful woman when he walked the earth. He would see them as a complete person and it seems he would be able to enjoy their beauty without coveting. But there I go slipping into opinion again…

    Good question and I look forward to reading more discussion about it.

    We are told in Thessalonians to flee fornication. That means something must be fornication. I believe fornication is sex between unmarried people and therefore we shouldn't do it or watch it. We certainly should protect ourselves from being aroused by it because we tend to tolerate what arouses us.

    Ephesians 5:3 But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. This scripture would certainly indicate to me that we shouldn't talk/fantasize/write about sexually sinful behaviors, much less obtained gratification from them. A case could be made that I'm going too far, but then Ephesians 5:11,12 instruct us not to take part in sinfully sexual behavior and to not even speak of it!

  6. Loving Guy says:

    When I have looked at visual erotica/ porn in the past, it usually was mostly focused on married sex or at least there were also some visual erotica videos which showed women masturbating for their husband or husbands masterbating for their wives. The scenes may have been fake and not based on any real relationship, but I imagined that was my future wife thinking of me and masturbating and vice versa. That is just my two cents. I have occassionally looked at some visual erotica. However, 99% of the time my masterbation has been with a combination of MH and romance novels.

  7. SuzyQ69 says:

    My biggest worry about porn is the exploitation of the actors and actresses. There is no guarantee that they are not trafficked or coerced into sexual humiliation and degradation. If that is the case, then regardless of whether it is lust or not, we are partaking in a dehumanizing act that is anti-image bearer. It is inherently unloving then, and thus a sin. Since we can't know for sure about 99% of porn, we should err against it from that perspective I think. And I say that as someone who used to have a serious porn problem.

  8. Sassenach47 says:

    I think for your own education and betterment, you should research the damaging effects of porn to the brain. I understand watching in regards to a married couple, but that doesn't mean there isn't damage being done to your brain. Another thing, ask the Lord what He thinks. Read "Can you hear me now?" By Brad Jersak to learn to hear the voice of the Lord. It's revolutionary!

  9. FaithEllie says:

    I am by no means TRYING to or saying I somehow KNOW THE MIND of God on this. (And this is in part the crux of this question/general topic- see my expectation starred below).

    But I honestly try and correlate my marriage to that of bible marriages.

    Am I pure in my intentions? Am I hurrying something we can’t/shouldn’t? Am I out scoring my husband’s pleasure of arousing me??

    This to me as a wife is my first instinctual rage with porn. I AM supposed to heat up my man, yet in our society of teeny tiny yellow bikinis, I HARDLY can compete at 150lbs after having 3 toddlers!

    2nd instinctual rage: SHE gets the job of arousing you, when this CAN BE a wonderful tryst building time for you and your woman. But instead, alone, you “get in the mood”—why? Just to F her hard when she’s probably not even in the mood yet?

    I've also GOT to say TECHNOLOGY ruined our marriages. The phone is everyone’s bff, not even their spouse anymore. And no matter how many “no its just a tool”s or “that's not true”s we add to that, it’s TRUE. Look at your screen time—12+ hours, but how recently have you spoken for hours with your spouse?? (I am guilty too).

    I see this situation entirely from the spiritual. Call me loopy or whatever, but to me, I view myself, my husband, and our marriage strictly from a spiritual/moral viewpoint, and I believe God sees it this way too. This aside, God is indeed A SEER of hearts and intents of that heart. He knows your purity or sin no matter how many “but I’m not trying to sin” statements we put in. I agree God never even says porn is sin straight out, but he DOES state His design for marriage over and over in Song of Solomon and some in the Proverbs and other books. I agree the church(es) have made masturbation even a sin, and it never was in scripture. But I see porn as a facet of the technology problem again. In early earth, there was no such device to record with and share it; so again, I think it’s not his design. Think of how Song of Solomon was/is; (people would argue that’s written porn but) it’s CLEAN. You can tell the intent is PURE. I even read it as a virgin, NOT lusting for Solomon but for MY man, whomever and wherever he was!!

    I will admit that, for me, visual is “WAY better,” BUT I also find every time I view porn, my soul hurts/suffers shame (not from upbringing either, but I can genuinely feel I grieve the Holy Spirit). And I know that even being “in the mood” can get us there asap, so I see how opting for “faster” or “way better” is a type of cop-out and laziness. I have even begun to avoid this site a lot because of my VERY active imagination—I am “in the room” with these stories—and that to me is NOT God’s intent.

    I love the verses 1 Corinthians 7:36-37 (And 1 Peter 4:1&2 talks of this too); I think this explains the ENTIRE equation here. If you are burning TAKE YOUR MATE- not a device/toy etc that gets you “ready for them.” And it comes down to the intent because wherever selfishness exists, every evil thing is there (James 3:16)

    Unconditional love is ONLY referenced towards God and spouses in scripture, and love like that “doesn’t hold grudges, hopes all things, BELIEVES all good things” of their spouse and “Doesn’t puff itself up” or “demand” (though I think a loving way of telling a spouse if you need sex badly is reminding them God said your body is theirs and their body is yours and you want to see ‘your body’! ;))

    *Are we indeed trying to find the mind of God/Christ on this or just trying to ‘okay’ our behavior to ourselves when we’re in the greater Christian circles?

    (Context: I’m a 30 yr old wifey to the HOTTEST.)

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